The Intelligence Bureau sent the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development a note last month, saying that those associated with universities like Ashoka University, KREA and Azim Premji University have been critical of the government, and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Print reported on Monday. Hence, the ministry has been reportedly hesitant to grant these universities the Institute of Eminence tag.

The Intelligence Bureau said that former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, who has been critical of the Centre, is on the board of KREA University, which is located in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh. The college is yet to begin its first batch.

The Intelligence Bureau’s note also said that Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is the vice chancellor of Ashoka University, located in Haryana’s Sonepat, is an “unrelenting critic of the government”. The agency added that the university’s founder-chairperson Ashish Dhawan “also funds anti-government propaganda sites like The Wire”. Dhawan is on the board of directors of the Independent Public Spirited Media Foundation, which funds The Wire, according to the report.

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The intelligence agency referred to a speech made by Wipro Ltd Chairperson Azim Premji in 2016, in which he purportedly said: “Smart city projects today is more talk than action. It has got a lot of traction from the prime minister, but its implementation has been very shallow.” The Intelligence Bureau also said that Wipro’s philanthropic arm, the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives Ltd, has been funding The Wire.

The other colleges the agency has flagged including Jamia Hamdard (New Delhi), Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (Bhubaneswar), Indian Institute of Public Health (Gandhinagar), OP Jindal Global University (Sonepat), and the Vellore Institute of Technology.

Unidentified government officials told The Print that the approval of these colleges as “Institutes of Eminence” has been delayed due to the Intelligence Bureau’s note.

In July last year, the Human Resource Development Ministry granted “Institution of Eminence” status to three public and three private educational institutions in India. This included the Mukesh Ambani-backed Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up. Land for the college has been acquired in Karjat city of Maharashtra.

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